Get it, gurls! These amazing celebrities walked the walk this year, breaking barriers and making history. These ladies have all earned a spot on our #SHAPEsquad
Beyoncé Partnered with 22 Days Nutrition
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We bow down to Queen Bey in all areas—music, style, romance—and healthy eating is no exception. That ***flawless body of hers can't only be attributed to workouts. So it made sense that earlier this year, she announced a partnership with her trainer, Marco Borges, and 22 Days Nutrition, the company behind her much-publicized vegan cleanse with husband Jay Z. The idea? It takes 21 days to break a habit, so 22 days in, healthy eating won't feel like a chore; it'll feel like a regular part of your life. The only problem? The full three-meals-a-day plan will set you back about $610. Sigh. If only we had Beyoncé's bank account.
Lena Dunham Embraced the Sports Bra Selfie
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Lena Dunham has never shied away from showing off her body (oh hey, every episode of GIRLS). And she's just as real off-screen too, using her social platforms to document her fitness journey. True to form, she posted an empowering selfie from her trainer Tracey Anderson's studio that actually turned the focus from her body to her brain. "Promised myself I would not let exercise be the first thing to go by the wayside when I got busy with Girls Season 5 and here is why: it has helped with my anxiety in ways I never dreamed possible," she wrote. Kudos to Dunham for promoting the feel-good and look-good benefits of exercise!
Celebrity Athleisure Reached Fever Pitch
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Have we ever been so on-board with a fashion trend as we have been with athleisure? The word was officially added to the dictionary this December, but proof that gymwear-as-everydaywear is here to stay really comes via celebrity endorsement: Carrie Underwood launched Calia in March, Jessica Simpson debuted The Warm Up at Macy's, and Shay Mitchell partnered with Kohl's for an athleisure line. And that's not even counting the designer activewear, from Tory Burch's Tory Sport to Derek Lam for Athleta. Our closets are practically bursting.
Ronda Rousey's Rise (and Fall)
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For a few months, it seemed like UFC champion Ronda Rousey was actually unbeatable. People were calling her the most important athlete of this generation, and Twitter and Instagram went nuts for the outspoken fighter. But, alas, all winning streaks must come to an end, and Rousey was dethroned by Holly Holm in a brutal fight earlier this month. And, adding salt to the wound, Rousey's fans turned on her, calling her out for poor sportsmanship during the fight. Here's hoping that Rousey's back in fighting form come 2016.
Photo: Corbis Images
Female Coaches and Officials Broke Through the Glass Ceiling
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The sports' world has been a big ol' boys' club for, oh, ever. But this year, it seems like the people in charge finally decided to recognize that women can be just as capable of holding positions traditionally reserved for men. It started last year when Becky Hammon became the first woman to hold a coaching position (as assistant coach) in the NBA during regular season; this year, she became the first female head coach. And this summer, Jen Welter was named assistant coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals' training camp, making her the first woman hold any coaching position on any NFL team. The NFL also named Sarah Thomas it's first full-time female referee, and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel the first-ever Chief Medical Officer of the League. Way to break boundaries, NFL!
Photo: AP Images
The U.S. Women's National Team Won the World Cup
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The 2015 Women's World Cup was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history—not just the most watched women's soccer game, but the most watched game ever. And on the team's return to the States, they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the first time that's ever been done for a women's team. From Carli Lloyd's record-breaking hat trick to captain Abby Wambach's incredible leadership, these woman kicked their way into America's heart. We think President Obama said it best: ""This team taught all America's children that playing like a girl means you're a badass."
Photo: AP Images
Celebrities Posed Naked to Show Off Their Real Bodies
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We love Demi Lovato for her ability to keep things really real (her #nomakeup selfies are always stunning), and her Vanity Fair shoot took that to a new level. The star had three rules at the spontaneous shoot with photographer Patrick Ecclesine: "no makeup, no clothes, no retouching." Then there were the incredibly empowering shots from the ESPN Body Issue, which showed off each and every muscle those athletes work so hard for. Oh, and we can't forget Robyn Lawley, who made waves as the first plus-size model in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue—but made just as much of a splash when she posted a topless post-baby Instagram that showed off her stretch marks. And when Amy Schumer saw her nearly-naked pictures for the 2016 Pirelli calendar, she said, "I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever felt in my life. And I felt like it looked like me." Sure, red carpet and stylized editorial photos are beautiful, but we prefer these flaws-and-all photos of our favorite celebs. After all, no one's perfect. Why perpetuate the myth?
Photo: Vanity Fair
Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, & More Condemned False Body Ideals
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In the spirit of keeping things real, the next generation of supermodels, actresses, and singers have no problem calling out body shamers. It model Gigi Hadid slammed them via Instagram, saying "I represent a body image that wasn't accepted in high-fashion before and I'm very lucky to be supported by the designers, stylists, and editors that I am... But if you're not one of those people, don't take your anger out on me." Actress Zendaya put magazine retouchers on blast, posting an Instagram of a PhotoShopped magazine pic next to the original photograph. "These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty we have." And Khloé Kardashian, who gets her fair share of online hate, captioned an unretouched photo from her Complex magazine shoot by saying, "This one is for all the troll haters out there that cannot seem to give me an ounce of credit for my daily workouts!" Now those are the kind of role models we're looking for!
Photo: AP Images
Selena Gomez Opened Up About Her Lupus Diagnosis
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We're used to hearing about celebs going to rehab for "exhaustion" (read: alcoholism, drug problems, etc.), but Serena Gomez managed to shock us when she admitted that while she was out of the spotlight earlier this year, it was because she was diagnosed with and undergoing chemotherapy for lupus. The life-long disease doesn't get a ton of attention, and typically doesn't affect people so young—Gomez was all the risk factors, including being female, of child-bearing age (15 to 44), and a minority. But by opening up about her diagnosis, Gomez was able to shed light on a lesser-known health issue and show people that it doesn't have to derail your life. Have you seen her "Good for You" video?!
Photo: AP Images
Misty Copeland Danced Her Way Into History
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When was the last time the world was so captivated by a ballerina? We've been crushing on Copeland since even before the dancer appeared in Under Armour's ads, but this summer, she made history when she was promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, making her the first female African American to reach this rank. And she continued to inspire people everywhere with a documentary about her life, which came out this fall. With all the powerful female athletes finally getting their time in the spotlight this year, Copeland ensured that at least some little girls will still want to grow up to be ballerinas.
Photo: Oskar Landi
Caitlyn Jenner Came Out as Transgender
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Keeping up with the Kardashians can be a chore these days, but Caitlyn Jenner and her incredible interview with Diane Sawyer and Vanity Fair cover story put the attention back on the former Olympian for all the right reasons. She was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPY Awards, and she's since been a tireless advocate for transgender athletes.
Photo: AP Images
Khloé Kardashian Positioned Herself As the New Lifestyle Guru
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Watch out, Gwyneth. Khloé Kardashian has been making major moves in the wellness world this year, which is no surprise if you follow the reality TV star on Instagram. In November, Kardashian released her new book, Strong Looks Better Naked, which served up a slew of (relatively) relatable workout tips, diet advice. and body image realness. She also launched a new lifestyle website, Khloé with a K, where she's been doling out fitness videos, recipe ideas, and workout style tips. And there's a partner app too, so you can get fit with Kardashian on the go. That's all you've ever wanted, right?
The Rise of the Celebrity Insta-Trainer and Health Coach
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While you can still find superstar trainers on your TV (Jillian Michaels had a new show debut this year, and Workout NY debuted on Bravo, starring trainers Holly Rilinger, Noah Neiman, and more), the real fitness stars are on Instagram. The proof is in the numbers: Kayla Itsines has over four million followers, Massy Arias has almost 2 million, as does Rachel Brathen. Had you even heard of these women before this year? We couldn't be happier to see more and more people promoting a healthy lifestyle (hurrah!), followers should make sure they know how to tell the difference between real personal trainers and celebrity enter-trainers.
Ellie Goulding Solidified Her Title As the Reigning #Fitstagram Champ
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Does anyone do #fitspiration as well as Ellie Goulding? The Delirium singer has logged multiple half-marathons, partnered with Nike for an inspiring campaign and designed a workout for their Nike+ Training Club app, found time to teach a Barry's Bootcamp class, and showed off the incredible results of all her hard work at the gym on our December cover. Seriously, can we be her workout buddy?
Serena Williams Was Named Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year
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Serena Williams had a very, very big year. Back in September, she was poised to become the first tennis player to sweep the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open 1988. Alas, she was defeated by Italian Roberta Vinci—but even her failure was groundbreaking, going down as one of the wildest upsets in tennis history. Williams never does things by halves, does she? Off the court, she was honored by Nike with a fashion line celebrating her "greatness," continued developing her own fashion line, and raked in a cool $24+ million according to Forbes. Even more, she continues to push back against stereotypes on and off the court, proving that there's no one way tennis players should look or act. That's why it was a no-brainer for Sports Illustrated to name her their Sportsperson of the Year—although her cover is already drawing fire, thanks to a pose some are calling "sexualized" (they wouldn't shoot a male athlete that way, critics say). We think she looks like the badass queen that she is. You do you, Serena!